Gonzalez must be a focal point for new GM

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Change is clearly on the way in Kansas City.

Carl Peterson is already out. Herman Edwards could be right behind him. Tyler Thigpen could behind them both, at least as the starter. Larry Johnson is likely gone, regardless of the upheaval in the front office.

But one thing needs to remain the same in Kansas City: The Chiefs need to keep Tony Gonzalez. Forever.

That's the first instruction, after the naming of a likely Edwards successor, Chiefs ownership has to give the new general manager. The Chiefs can't say goodbye to Gonzalez. They need to make it work.

Gonzalez wanted to be traded to a contender at the October deadline and he was upset that he wasn't dealt. Earlier this month, the future Hall of Fame tight end said he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. But at 32, he knows he wants to be a part of a winner. He said he thought the Chiefs could be a playoff team next season with the right moves. He wants Thigpen to be the quarterback.

But that remains to be seen. Whatever happens, the new general manager has to make sure Gonzalez is part of the future. And not just for nostalgia or clinging to the past. The truth is, Gonzalez is still the best tight end in football. He is still a game changer. Gonzalez needs 16 catches in the Chiefs' final two games to have 100 receptions in a season for the second time in his 12-year career.

Kansas City needs Gonzalez on the field. Through all the change, he needs to be the constant.